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How to Find Out If You Should Request Recusal

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By George Khoury, Esq. on October 18, 2018 7:00 AM

Does your judge own stock in the company you're suing? Unless they're a major shareholder, like more than 5 or 10 percent major, it's not likely to be easy to dig up information that'll pop up in a regular old Google search.

Clearly, if a judge has a 5 or 10 percent stake in a publicly traded, or any, company, they shouldn't be hearing cases about it, but even if a judge has an infinitesimal stake, they probably still shouldn't be hearing cases about it. But how is a litigant supposed to know? It's not like discovery gets conducted on a judge's potential conflicts of interest, and while judges sure do love clearing cases off their docket, usually, recusal is a method of last resort reserved for the torture that gets exacted when reality TV and justice intersect.

Google Your Judge

It's one thing to find out that a judge used to be involved as an attorney in a case that's now before them, but getting to the bigger indicia of bias and conflict, financial stakes, is a much more difficult task. Just like Googling potential clients, always Google your judge as, minimally, you might be able to find out whether they'll prefer fishing or football puns littered throughout your pleadings.

Fortunately, if you're in federal court, it'll be a little bit easier as most of the information about a judge's financial interests is accessible online thanks to JudicialWatch.org. You can see a judge's stock holdings, properties holdings, major assets and more.

If you're in state court, tracking those forms down might be a bit more difficult. Even so, it might just be worth looking into, especially if the defendant is a private corporation (particularly, as noted above, a publicly traded one). The info is out there, it might just require an administrative request for the documents (which you probably should make part of your initial case file opening process).

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